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David Gordon

David Gordon

David Gordon (born 1948) is an American libertarian philosopher and intellectual historian influenced by Rothbardian views of economics. Peter J. Boettke, in his Reason Foundation "Reason Papers," Issue No. 19, Fall 1994, describes Gordon as "a philosopher and intellectual historian who is deeply influenced by the Rothbardian strand of economics." He is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute and editor of The Mises Review.

Articles by David Gordon

Should We Get Rid of Guns?

7 days ago

You will not be surprised to learn that my answer is no, but what I’d like to discuss in this week’s column is an argument by an eminent philosopher that we should. Robert Hanna is an authority on Kant (Objectivist readers will already see trouble ahead), and in an article published online this month, “Gun Crazy: A Moral Argument for Gun Abolitionism,” he calls for the repeal of the Second Amendment.
He presents his argument for gun abolitionism in two versions, short and long, and oddly the key premises of the short argument are ones that most readers of the Mises page will accept: “1. Coercion is forcing people to do things, by using violence or the threat of violence. 2. Coercion is always rationally unjustified and immoral, because it treats people as instruments and mere

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The Historical Origins of Modern American War Crimes

17 days ago

In many ways, the American war crimes of Korea and Vietnam were a continuation of American military conduct in the Civil War and during the Indian wars.  Original Article: “The Historical Origins of Modern American War Crimes” This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Michael Stack.

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Contract Rights Are Not the Same as Natural Rights

18 days ago

Contracts are voidable and thoroughly changeable. They can be totally ignored with the consent of both parties. But natural rights are not like contracts and can’t be abolished even with consent. Original Article: “Contract Rights Are Not the Same as Natural Rights​” This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Michael …

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Why There Is No Free Lunch

19 days ago

No Free Lunch: Six Economic Lies You’ve Been Taught and Probably Believeby Caleb S. FullerFreiling Publishing, 2021. 110 pp. Caleb Fuller, an economist who teaches at Grove City College, thinks that many people have a mistaken conception of economics. It is, they think, a dull and dry subject, the “dismal science,” of primary interest to …

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The Left Still Pines for Socialist War Planning

22 days ago

Left-leaning economists often look back with nostalgia to the 1950s. Paul Krugman and Thomas Piketty, for example, long for the 1950s, when the income and wealth gap between the rich and the poor was less than it is now. True, people were less well-off then than now, but why does this matter? It is better …

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How Media and Tech Elites Seized Control of Elections

23 days ago

Rigged! How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Electionsby Mollie HemingwayRegnery Publishing, 2021, 432 pp. Mollie Hemingway, an editor of the online magazine The Federalist, calls our attention in this well-researched book to a problem of vital significance. She is a supporter of Donald Trump, though not an uncritical one, and writes …

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The Battle over the Free Market

24 days ago

Samuelson Friedman: The Battle over the Free MarketBy Nicholas WapshottNorton, 2021367 pages Nicholas Wapshott is a British journalist and biographer with a strong interest in economic theory. He says that the Nobel laureate Edmund Phelps is his mentor. One theme in twentieth-century economics dominates his work: the clash between economists who favor the free market …

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The Historical Origins of Modern American War Crimes

26 days ago

Last month I reviewed Samuel Moyn’s Humane (New York, 2021) but discussed only a few topics in it. Owing to the book’s great importance, I’d like in what follows to address another issue as well, and this is something with which many readers will already be familiar. The principal theme of Moyn’s book, it will be …

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Contract Rights Are Not the Same as Natural Rights

28 days ago

Purchasing Submission: Conditions, Power, and Freedomby Philip HamburgerHarvard University Press, 2021, 320 pp. Philip Hamburger has made a revolutionary contribution to American constitutional law. He shows that what is often regarded as a narrow topic, “unconstitutional conditions,” of interest only to specialists, is in fact fundamental to understanding our contemporary system of government and moreover …

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Why Mises Rejected Common Notions of “Progress”

29 days ago

Ludwig von Mises has some characteristically acute and important comments on the idea of progress in history, and in what follows, I’d like to address some of these. In the way he develops his views, one of the key themes of his notion of ethics plays an important role. In contrast to those, like Herbert …

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Is Solidarity a Good Thing?

October 22, 2021

In his book Let’s Have Socialism Now! (Yale University Press, 2001), the French economist Thomas Piketty places great emphasis on “solidarity,” and his opposition to the free market rests to a large extent on its conflict with that purported value. In this week’s column, I’d like to examine what he says about solidarity, and, as you …

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Why Did Google Ads Ban LewRockwell.com?

October 21, 2021

Google says it can only tolerate “accurate” information and has banned LewRockwell.com from its advertising program. This position only makes sense if one makes some faulty assumptions about how information is spread. Original Article: “Why Did Google Ads Ban LewRockwell.com?” This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Michael Stack.

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Why Did Google Ads Ban LewRockwell.com?

October 15, 2021

One thing struck me as especially odd about Google’s ban of LewRockwell.com from its advertising program. This was the claim that articles on this site could “undermine participation or trust in electoral or democratic process.” I suppose what is meant is that the site has published articles that suggest there was substance to President Trump’s …

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How Praxeology Helps Us Understand the Real World

October 8, 2021

Critics of praxeology often claim that it is isn’t really one of the sciences. It isn’t about the empirical world but is mere idle play with words. In this week’s column, I’d like to look at some remarks that the philosopher and linguistics scholar Jerrold Katz makes about rationalism and empiricism in his important and …

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Why Worrying about Everything Is Bad Foreign Policy

October 7, 2021

The Stupidity of War: American Foreign Policy and the Case for Complacencyby John MuellerCambridge University Press, 2021, 332 pp. The subtitle of John Mueller’s excellent new book suggests that something unusual is in store for the reader. If someone is called complacent, he is hardly being complimented; how, then, can there be a “case for …

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Can a Libertarian Work at a Public University?

October 1, 2021

A correspondent sent me an argument I hadn’t heard before that concludes that it’s not morally permissible for libertarians to work for public universities, and in this week’s column, I’d like to examine that argument. To telegraph where I’m going, I don’t think the argument works, but even if I’m right, it doesn’t follow that …

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Should War Be Made “Humane”?

September 30, 2021

Moyn fears that “humane warfare” along with programs of global surveillance, would subject the world to hegemonic control by one or a few dominant superpowers. Original Article: “Should War Be Made ‘Humane’?” This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Michael Stack.

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Austrian Economics and Scientific Realism

September 24, 2021

Uskala Mäki is one of the leading philosophers of economics of the past half century; moreover, he is well versed in Austrian economics, though not an adherent of the school. In this week’s column, I’d like to consider some issues he raises in his paper “Scientific Realism and Austrian Explanation” (Review of Political Economy, 1990). …

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Should War Be Made “Humane”?

September 23, 2021

Humane: How the United States Abandoned Peace and Reinvented Warby Samuel MoynFarrar, Straus and Giroux, 400 pp. Samuel Moyn is a distinguished intellectual historian who teaches both history and law at Yale. His earlier books were written for an academic audience, but in Humane he has an urgent message that he wishes to convey to the …

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Is Self-Ownership Necessary?

September 20, 2021

Isn’t a principle of nonaggression against others another way of stating the self-ownership principle? “Not necessarily,” says the insightful philosopher Chandran Kukathas. Original Article: “Is Self-Ownership Necessary?” This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Michael Stack.

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Is Self-Ownership Necessary?

September 17, 2021

Chandran Kukathas is one of the best contemporary political philosophers, and one of the few sympathetic to libertarian views. Unlike Murray Rothbard, he does not consider self-ownership fundamental but instead defends libertarianism from a different standpoint that is skeptical of principles considered apart from their expression in particular societies. In this week’s article, I’d like …

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Shakespeare Helps Us Understand Rome’s Descent into Empire

September 16, 2021

Shakespeare’s Rome: Republic and Empireby Paul Cantor1976; University of Chicago Press, 2017, 228 pp. Paul Cantor will probably be best known to readers of the Mises page for his pioneering use of Austrian economics in literary criticism, and many will also be aware of his brilliant studies of popular culture. (For the former topic, see …

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Slippery Slope Arguments and Tyranny

September 13, 2021

Some slippery slope arguments are a case of bad reasoning, but those presented by Mises and Hayek are not among them. Original Article: “Slippery Slope Arguments and Tyranny” This Audio Mises Wire is generously sponsored by Christopher Condon. Narrated by Michael Stack.

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Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making Beyond the Numbers

September 10, 2021

Radical Uncertainty: Decision-Making Beyond the NumbersJohn Kay and Mervyn KingNew York: Norton, 2020, xvi + 528 pp. David Gordon ([email protected]) is a senior fellow at the Mises Institute and editor of the Journal of Libertarian Studies. Kay and King are not Austrians, but in this important book, they lend aid and comfort to several key …

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The Essential Austrian Economics

September 10, 2021

The Essential Austrian EconomicsChristopher J. Coyne and Peter J. BoettkeVancouver: Fraser Institute, 2020, 68 pp. David Gordon ([email protected]) is a senior fellow at the Mises Institute and editor of the Journal of Libertarian Studies. Christopher Coyne and Peter Boettke, both professors of economics at George Mason University, say, “The purpose of this book is to present …

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Re-reading Economics in Literature: A Capitalist Critical Perspective

September 10, 2021

Re-reading Economics in Literature: A Capitalist Critical Perspectiveby Matt SpiveyLanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2021, 133 pp. David Gordon ([email protected]) is a senior fellow at the Mises Institute and editor of the Journal of Libertarian Studies. Matt Spivey asks an important question. Literary critics often use economics to interpret the texts they consider, but often they have …

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Slippery Slope Arguments and Tyranny

September 10, 2021

In my article last week, I talked about Michael Huemer’s notion of “false fallacies.” These are often listed in logic books as bad arguments, but some of them, Huemer suggests, are actually good arguments, at least if suitably modified. This week, I’d like to talk about another false fallacy, one that Huemer doesn’t include on …

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The Illusion of American Exceptionalism

September 9, 2021

  After the Apocalypse: America’s Role in a World TransformedBy Andrew BacevichMetropolitan Books, 2021Xiv + 206 pages Andrew Bacevich, a history professor at Boston University for twenty-three years, has written an excellent book on American foreign policy, but it is embedded within a larger and more questionable book. Fortunately, the merits of the former book …

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Review: Economy, Society, and History

September 8, 2021

Economy, Society, and Historyby Hans-Hermann HoppeMises Institute, 2021191 pp. In 2004, Hans Hoppe delivered a series of lectures at the Mises Institute about his theory of social evolution, and we are fortunate to have this volume, based on a transcript of those lectures, now available. As one would expect, the book contains much of interest, …

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How America Abandoned Decentralization and Embraced the State

September 6, 2021

Chaining Down Leviathan: The American Dream of Self-Government 1776—1865. By Luigi Marco Bassani. Abbeville Institute Press, 2021. Vii + 356 pages.
Marco Bassani is a historian of European political thought and it is from the perspective of his discipline that he looks at the American political system that came to an end in 1865. As he sees matters, the United States from its inception as an independent country resisted the dominant trend of nineteenth-century Europe, the rise of the all-powerful state. Before the Civil War, the United States, as its plural name suggests, was federal and not central in form, and sovereignty resided ultimately in the people of the several states, taken separately, rather than in a unified entity. Bassani’s book is rich

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